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Jonas Felix: My Five Favorite NetBeans IDE Features!

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Continuing a series of articles focusing on NetBeans users and their five favorite NetBeans IDE features, here's the next part, by Jonas Felix. -- NetBeans team.

Jonas Felix is COO and co-owner of www.cabag.ch, a Swiss based web development company with 17 years of experience and 20 developers, all using NetBeans IDE, all specialized in web applications, TYPO3, and software integration.

He is one of the 6 elected members of the Expert Advisory Board of the TYPO3 Association. In addition, he supports a team in felixideas GmbH, his idea incubator company, developing innovative Apps with Cordova, the Ionic Framework, and Java Grails. He has a long history of Web and PHP development, but also uses NetBeans IDE a lot for JavaScript, with Cordova and Java.

In his spare time he likes to fly around with his wife with and without a wingsuit. More on this on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wingsuitist

What are your 5 favorite NetBeans features?

1. Build apps with ease. I started using NetBeans for CMS-focused PHP projects and didn’t think about using it for Cordova apps. We used to manage Grails projects with GGTS, worked on Cordova with the Android ADT, XCode, and some other stuff was done with Sublime.

I stumbled upon this in NetBeans by accident when I wanted to open some projects on my new Mac Book Air with some tools missing. I basically opened an Ionic Framework Cordova App and the Grails Server Backend in NetBeans. To my surprise it didn’t just show me the code, I could also compile and run it within minutes. Not only with the built in browser and frontend development tools, but also directly in the iOS and Android simulator. From that point on, I just didn’t open the other IDEs anymore. (OK, I’m honest, I still use vim for certain tasks.)

2. It’s one simple multiplatform package. Although developers should know software very well, it’s good to have easy manageable products. On the other hand, developers are king, so you can’t lock them down to one system or one way of working.

NetBeans offers platform independence, easy installation, a lot of plugins, and many ways to make yourself comfortable with your favorite working mode. It’s open source, can be adapted, installed without licencing hassles, and some of our new developers are already playing around with a variety of plugins. It takes a few minutes to set up and configure a NetBeans environment for a new developer and updating it is not much harder.

3. Work on different stacks. Nowadays, developers are used to working on different stacks and technologies. With NetBeans, you work on an HTML5 AngularJS application and, at the same time, the PHP or Groovy/Grails based backend is ongoing.

Especially useful for me, since I'm not focused on one development project, but am involved in a lot of them at the same time for tiny bits of time, even if it’s just for consulting. Usually you have different IDEs with different ways of managing things, but switching between JS, PHP, Java, Groovy or even Shellscript is very fluent in NetBeans.

So this is how my Projects window can look sometimes:

4. PHP is a NetBeans-VIP. It’s not hard to find out that NetBeans really likes PHP. Directly on the NetBeans Downloads page, you’ll see a package focused on this great interpreter that grew over so many years to be one of the key players on the Internet. 

Starting from very good language integration, to debugging, to the integration of important frameworks, to the very important support of composer, it’s just a pleasure to code with PHP in NetBeans. But as the PHP world is filled with a lot of different technologies, and especially frontend tasks, it also plays well when juggling the DOM and its tamers, such as jQuery.

5. All about the details. If you work as a developer with an IDE, it’s a lot about the details, often stuff you don’t use that often but if you need them it’s just important to have them available. To give a short braindump of what comes to my mind about things I don’t want to miss in NetBeans:

  • GIT Support
  • TYPO3 TypoScript Plugin
  • Hints, Spellchecker and Alerts
  • completion, showing documentation in place and guessing parameters
  • Code Templates
  • Licence Header Management
  • possibilities to arrange all panels
  • going through history
  • AngularJS completion
  • Search/Replace and Searching through folders (despite it’s strange shortcut)
  • Format (always press format once in a while, and if you are afraid, configure it!)
  • Refactoring workflow
  • Jumping around go to declaration/find usage
  • SASS support
  • Favorites and Find in Favorites
  • Chrome connector
  • Redmine (and JIRA) integration
  • Markdown plugin (ok you have to compile it your self, but that’s easy)
… and the list goes on!

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